House of Representatives move to curb online crime, child exploitation

The House of Representatives today, Tuesday, 6th June, 2021 moved to curb the prevalence of online crime and child exploitation in Nigeria.

This was sequel to a motion to that effect moved on the floor of the House of Representatives by the member representing Ede north, Ede south, Egbedore and Ejigbo federal constituency of Osun state, Representative Bamidele Salam.

The motion tagged: “Need to Curb the Prevalence of Online Crime and Child Exploitations in Nigeria” expressed worry that ‘serious crimes, anti- social and harmful acts like killing, kidnapping, internet scams, cyber bullying, grooming, luring and sexual exploitation are being committed daily via mobile devices as part of the accompanied threats of digital/technological innovation in Nigeria’.

Consequently, the House resolves to: Urge the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to ensure that all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Nigeria have an application/solution which allows parents to track the activities of their children whenever they are online at no cost.

It also call on the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to ensure that all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Nigeria engage in sensitization of children and parents on online child exploitation and the accompanying dangers, as a form of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Rep. Salam also calls on the ministries of Women Affairs and Youth Development to develop a policy framework which will promote education/advocacy on online crimes and online child exploitations in Nigeria.

The House also mandated its committee on Telecommunications to ensure compliance.
The motion which received acceptance by members was seconded by Rep. Amobi Yinusa Akintola from Osun state.

Nigeria had 99.05 million internet users in 2020 and projected to grow to 131.7 million in 2023 as Nigeria remains country with the highest smartphones penetration in the world.

The rest of the motion reads:
Further Note that in 2020, internet penetration in Nigeria amounted to 46.6 percent of the population and set to reach 65.2 percent in 2025;

Further worried that online child grooming has become a growing cause for concern as minors are regularly lured into various illicit businesses such as child trafficking, child prostitution and production of child pornography through online grooming;

Disturbed that in 2016, the internet watch foundation identified 57,000 Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), the web addresses containing child sexual abuse materials;

Observed that the school closure and other COVID-19 related restrictions have massively increased the amount of time the children spend online for educational and social purposes which has invariably increased dramatically, the vulnerability of children to fall victim to sexual exploitation by predators online;

Further Disturbed that no decisive step has been taken to curb the prevalence of online crimes despite several reported cases which include the case of Cynthia Udoka Osokogu who was lured from her residence in Abuja via Facebook chat and killed in Lagos hotel in 2012, Favour Oladele, a 300- level undergraduate of the Department of Theatre Art, Lagos State University who was gruesomely murdered on 8th December,2019 at Ikoyi -Ile in Osun State, among others;

Concerned that there are several unreported cases of missing persons, rape and other related crimes through mobile devices connectivity and social media platforms;

Hopeful that these online crimes and child exploitations are largely preventable through a creation of an application/solution by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) which allows parents and guardian to track online activities, location, calls, SMS, WhatsApp, and other internet activities of their children and wards;

Further concerned that only MTN operator out of all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Nigeria has an application/solution (MTN mPulse powered by Kaspersky) which, upon payment of monthly subscription of N250.00, allows parents to track and monitor the activities of their children whenever they are online.

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